Tips for a Long-Term Exchange
Roser Goula, the Community Manager of IntercambioCasas.com, is currently on a four month back-to-back home exchange journey with her husband. We asked her to share some tips for planning a long-term home exchange getaway.
Even though organizing a multi-city exchange can seem a bit overwhelming at first, it’s really not too much different from setting up a regular home exchange. Apart from what you already do (cleaning, house instructions, local guidebook), there are only a few more things to make sure you’re ready for a lengthy exchange before you leave for your journey.
Swap your keys. The first question people usually ask us when they hear about our four-month exchange trip is about the key exchange. How do we coordinate it? Easy! We make sure someone is at our home to welcome our exchange partners and hand over the keys. They feel cared for and get to know their “in case of emergency” contact, and we make sure our keys aren’t lost. Another option is to send keys by mail (although some regions have more reliable postal service than others) or, even better, meet your partners during trip if you happen to have a stopover in the same city. That’s what we did for our exchanges in New York and Melbourne!
Meet your exchange partners. At home in Barcelona, we love to wait for our partners, welcome them, and exchange keys before leaving. Even though that was not possible on this trip, we were still able to meet some of our exchange partners along the way. If you can coordinate it, meeting your new friends is a great way to share local advice and learn some last minute tips about the house.
Leave a day in between each exchange. Even though the exchange partners we’ve met so far have been very respectful and clean, we want to make sure our apartment is spotless when the next ones arrive. That’s why we have a cleaning service scheduled to come in after every partner leaves our home. To make sure there was enough time to clean, we arranged our back-to-back exchanges with at least one day in between.
Enlist someone you can rely on. While we always leave clear instructions for our home, sometimes the unpredictable happens (and the laundry needs to be done!) Since we can’t be there to check in during our travels, my mother offered to come to our apartment to make sure everything is in place, towels and sheets are washed, and welcome baskets are prepared. Moms are the best, aren’t they?
Allow some extra days. Budget some time at when you reach each new destination to settle in, recover from jet lag, and get to know your new neighborhood. After the first week, you’ll feel much more confident about taking small trips to discover nearby cities.
Start planning in advance. Way in advance. The further you travel and the longer you plan on staying, the more time you will need to prepare your exchange. Flights from Australia or New Zealand can be pricey, so members living there tend to start planning at least six months in advance. The first step is to determine your destination. If you’re looking for simultaneous swaps and are traveling while school is in session, reach out to freelancers and retirees; their schedules are generally much more flexible. Don’t forget to update your favorite destinations and preferred travel dates on your HomeExchange.com profile; that way, your perfect long-term exchange partner can find you!
Do you have any tips for planning a long-term exchange? Tell us in the comments!